HPR Fall Pledge Drive Gets a Head Start

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Hawaii Public Radio kicks off its fall pledge drive tomorrow. Thanks to record levels of early giving and a rising number of “sustaining members,” the fundraising goal is 15 percent lower. But HPR still needs 100 percent of the community’s support to wrap things up quickly.

HPR, like many of its mainland peers, have shifted the emphasis of their on-air fundraising from twice-a-year donations to “sustaining memberships,” in which listeners commit to automatic monthly contributions. Creative promotions, like HPR’s recent “$5-a-Month Friday” campaign, have also boosted its numbers. And early pledges, made in the few weeks prior to the official drive, have been very important.

This past spring, these supplemental fundraising efforts allowed HPR to lower its pledge drive goal by $34,000. Today, it looks like momentum is building. This upcoming drive, ‘Celebration 2015,’ will need to raise $72,000 less than last fall, despite constantly rising costs. This was realized through sustaining memberships, now shifting the bottom line upward by $20,000, and an impressive $52,000 in early gifts.

With these and other contributions — including donations from more than 1,000 different individual supporters, over 100 of them first timers — the ‘Celebration 2015’ fundraising goal is $825,000, or $153,000 less than initially budgeted.

“The lowered goal for this drive came about not because the costs of running a statewide network or purchasing national and international programming have come down,” said HPR president and general manager Michael Titterton. “No, the real engineers of this happy event are our more than 3,300 Sustaining Members and 958 Early Bird donors who have taken to heart the idea of public radio.”

hpr-sign-800-600Of course, this still doesn’t mean a successful pledge drive is guaranteed.

Across the country, only about 10 percent of a public radio station’s listeners actually contribute, and that percentage is lower in Hawaii. And audiences of all kinds of media are swimming in more options and distractions. More than once in recent years, an HPR pledge drive has shot past its scheduled two-week run.

“We don’t set a time limit on these drives,” cautions Titterton. “Rather, we simply suggest to those who derive a good time from our broadcasts that this is a good time to show their support and ask that they help us make good time towards the goal.”

Still, if you’d like to hear fewer pledge drive pleas and more quality programming — including international, national, and original local shows (like, say, Bytemarks Cafe) — please consider calling in your support. I would certainly appreciate it.

I suggest ringing the volunteers in the basement at HPR2 at (808) 941-3689 or (877) 941-3689 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday, where you might catch a local geek, scientist, or entrepreneur answering the phone… but you can call anytime during the day, and of course you can also join and donate online.

(If you donate tomorrow, however, you’ll be entered to win a “Leadership Circle” premium — usually reserved for pledges of $100 a month or more. Say the code word “CATALYST” to add your name to the hat for “Your Day at HPR,” a personal tour of the studio.)

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